Ahead of the Hangzhou Asian Games, Chinese state media have expressed caution over the performance of Korean badminton.
Xinhua, China's state-run news agency, published an article titled "China in medal hunt amid rivals' challenges" on its English-language website, Xinhua.net, on Aug. 22.
Chinese badminton swept three gold medals in the men's team, women's doubles and mixed doubles among seven events at the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Games.
The other four were shared by Indonesia (men's singles and doubles), Japan (women's team), and Chinese Taipei (women's singles).
South Korea, on the other hand, went home empty-handed with a 'no medal' 40 years after the 1978 Bangkok Games.
However, Korean badminton has surged in power in the past five years, thanks to the emergence of women's singles world No. 1 Ahn Se-young.
"Japan and Indonesia are still competitive, and South Korea, which performed poorly in Jakarta, has been winning recently," Xinhuanet cautioned.
"Ahn Se-young, who has won nine titles this season at the age of 21, is the favorite to win the women's singles gold medal," it said.
He described her compatriots Chen Yufei, Akane Yamaguchi (Japan) and Tai Tzu-ying (Chinese Taipei) as "strong challengers.
Ahn has won nine gold medals this year, including the World Individual Championships, the All-England Open and the China Open, and is ranked No. 1 in the world.
Mixed doubles pair Seo Seung-jae and Chae Yu-jung were also mentioned as dark horses for the tournament.
"China's Zheng Tzu Wei and Huang Yaocheng (world No. 1) are the strongest, but they have recently lost twice in a row to Seo Seung Jae and Chae Yu Jung and are in a grim state," Xinhuanet reported.
Seo Seung-jae and Chae Yu-jung claimed their first victory in nine games in the World Championship final last month, and they won their second straight head-to-head match in the quarterfinals of the China Open this month.
Badminton at the Asian Games will begin with four days of team competition on Sept. 28, followed by the individual events on Oct. 2-7. 토토사이트